Never say ‘No’ to a great idea simply because it is impossible. —Dr. Robert Schuller

July 4, 1939, during a doubleheader between the New York Yankees and Washington Senators, one of the most memorable events in the history of major league baseball occurred.

Lou Gehrig, Yankee first baseman, after ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games (a record only recently surpassed by Baltimore Oriole shortstop Cal Ripkin), announced to the world he had been striken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurological disease, and there was no cure.

The Yankees decided to honor baseball’s Iron Man with a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium that day was packed. There wasn’t, I’ve heard, a dry eye in the stands. Baseball greats who played alongside Gehrig, including Babe Ruth, assembled to pay tribute to a dear friend — along with members of the Washington Senators.

Gehrig, his voice weak and fighting back tears, read a speech, a short one, he had written the night before.

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and I have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Gehrig went on to tell the Yankee stadium crowd WHY he considered himself lucky and finished his speech in tears: “When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles against her own daughter — that’s something! When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body—it’s a blessing! When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed —that’s the finest I know!

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for! Thank you.”

Gehrig died June 2, 1941 believing to the end he still had much to live for. ALS, the disease that took his life, is now referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Love, Luck, Money, Serendipity, Good Fortune, The Good Life — we all want these things, as did Lou Gehrig who considered his life a lucky one.

So, how lucky were you today? Does Lou Gehrig’s story add a bit of perspective to how you answer this question?


Does possibility thinking tilt luck in our favor? Is it your view that extremely negative people get taken care of by life (for reasons that make no sense) and do extremely well while people you know (whose mission is love and light) scramble around to find enough cash to keep their lights on?

Lou Gehrig’s positive outlook, his belief that a way might be found to cure ALS before it took him, did not play out the way he hoped. Yet, to the end, Gehrig considered himself a lucky man.

One thing Lou Gehrig’s story taught me is this: If we cannot appreciate how lucky we already are then we are unlucky because we feel ourselves so. Also, not many of consider themselves lucky due to the failure of a bad thing to happen.

“Where are my lucky breaks, the ones others seem to get?” L.T. wonders. “The friends I graduated with? I look at them. I see what they’ve got. Then, I look at what I own. I can’t help but be discouraged.” Yet, in my view, L.T. and his wife have a great life—each has a well-paying employment, they have their health, youth, two great youngsters, plus all the modern conveniences in their home a modern-day family will ever need.

Is L.T. lucky? He doesn’t seem to think so. With his attitude, it’s easy to agree with him. L.T. is unlucky because he feels he is, even though it’s hard to see how he can feel so “down” about his life.

“Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already,” the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote. “Of the things you have, select the best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought if you did not have them.”

L.T., in my view, is lucky beyond belief! And, unlucky not to realize how great is his good fortune!

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years,” Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “how men would believe and adore and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the City of God which had been shown!”

The believers would be lucky! As it is, the stars appear nightly and those who do not notice or care whether or not stars are in the sky cannot be considered called lucky, don’t you agree?

“You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled,” Arnold Bennett wrote, “with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life!”

How lucky, how fortunate, how serendipitously delightful to wake up and be gifted with additional hours of life! How unlucky not to grasp this wonderful reality and live FROM it.

And so, here’s the lament of the unlucky, the impossibility thinkers, the unthankful and ungrateful who occupy space among us but do not fill it with anything but their laments: “Why me? Why have I been singled out? Why do my best laid plans always go awry”

“Lost: somewhere between sunrise and sunset,” Horace Mann phrases it, “two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”

How unlucky!

And then there is our modern day malaise of worry. So much to worry about these days. Worry, fear, doubts, upsets, greed, frustration, hurry, hurry, hurry, rush, rush, rush, here, there, everywhere, faster, faster, faster, no time, overscheduled life, tired, exhausted, worn out--how unlucky!

Johann von Goethe’s “take” on his life and times led to this shrewd and insightful observation:

“If the morning wakes us to no new joys, if the evening brings us not the hopes of new pleasures, is it worthwhile to dress and undress?”

What a dreary sentiment! How unlucky—to live with a sense that you’re losing your life in an attempt to live it.

So, if you’re unlucky in love, are unluckily trapped in a job you despise, unluckily facing failure once again, how can you reverse your luck?

Dr. Richard Wiseman has studied luck for over a decade. His book The Luck factor lists four essential principles he believes will alter the trajectory of an unlucky life.

Dr. Wiseman says that lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their life. They build and maintain a strong “network of luck,” and are open to new experiences.

This strong “network of luck” is what Max Gunther in his book The Luck Factor calls “throwing out many luck lines.” Gunther points out that “The electric remark that makes for luck seldom comes from our well-worn contacts,” and encourages us to take an explorer’s interest in the world which is how we often serendipitously meet people with mutual interests.

Next, Wiseman says the lucky listen to their lucky hunches. Gunther’s insight was to point out that each of us carries an invisible luck potential and that “With luck, half-baked plans get you somewhere. With bad luck, no plan will work.”

Use your intuitive luck potential to throw out more luck lines and remember, while you’re doing so, this is NOT all about you. “Your warm-spirited actions sustain awareness of you in other minds,” Gunther writes. In other words, be sure meeting YOU makes others lucky!

Thirdly, lucky people’s expectations abut the future help them fulfill their dreams and ambitions. In other words, they EXPECT good fortune, even if their chances to achieve a certain goal seem slim. They also believe their interactions with others will be lucky and fortuitous.

Being EXCITED makes you luck contagious! Gunther points out that “Expectation sends an electrical message to our neural system. While it lasts we are alert and most apt to be rewarded.”

In other words, we are likely to be LUCKY!

Finally, Dr. Wiseman says lucky people are able to transform their bad luck into good fortune. “They see the positive side of their bad luck and are convinced any ill fortune will, in the long run, work out for their best. The lucky do not dwell on their ‘unfortunate’ past failings and they take constructive steps to prevent more bad luck in the future.”

Love what you do and do more of it! Gunther notes that “The lucky renew their energy through the activity in which they’re engaged,” a fact that is so obvious we often overlook it when we’re upset or suffering. “When ZEST enters into life, luck is usually not far behind,” Gunther reminds us.

Plus, as Nicholas Rescher points out in his book Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life, the lucky enjoy the unpredictability of life and reach out for new experiences. “For if the future could be predicted, what fun would remain in life?” Arthur Schlesinger asks in his writings, which is why we often do madcap and “crazy” things—just to break the monotony in our life. No matter what befalls us, it is the view of Frederick Wiedmann that a happy, very lucky and successful life is one in which we have “The mature capacity to find the ‘Yes’ in all things.”

Dr. Wiseman believes it is possible, armed with his four essential techniques for turning around our luck, we can reverse and pull out of the downward spiral or cycle of bad luck we’ve been in. He has created a luck school to teach unlucky people to do just this — and with considerable success.


How are our beliefs tied to the determinations we make inside ourselves that we are a lucky or unlucky person?

In his book Healing Visualizations, Dr. Gerald Epstein says imagery is a superb way to initiate one’s healing process. Imagery is a simple process and the benefits far outweigh the effects of simply doing nothing.

“It means finding, discovering, or creating a mental picture, a mental form. The imagined—but still real—form has all the characteristics of any event, thing, or situation of any waking event, thing, or situation that we might see in everyday waking reality.”

Dr. Epstein continues, “The difference is that, unlike objects perceived when awake, they have no volume or mass. In short, they have no substance. Yet, they do have energy. We might think of these images [my comment: or reactions] as our mental children. We give birth to them to act on our behalf as agents of healing [or luck, we might also add]; then, with the energy they possess, they continue to stimulate the healing [or act as a lucky self-fulfilling prophecy] process on their own.”

In other words, as Dr. Epstein explains, it’s clear that what we creatively imagine is a subjective reality, but IT IS A REALITY with the power to affect our bodies and, by extension, our luck. The metaphysical writer Neville Goddard pointed out many times that we do not get what we want in life so much as we receive what we EXPECT or feel we DESERVE.

Dr. Wiseman says the lucky tend to get luckier and the unlucky unluckier as time goes by. Perhaps this explains the deeper meaning Jesus had in mind when he said, “To him that hath shall be given and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” The rich get richer, the poor poorer.

Watch your EXPECTATIONS--what you EXPECT to be TRUE--if you plan to power up your luck potential and in doing so diminish any number of unlucky episodes you were destined to encounter in the years ahead.


Many years ago Dr. Robert Schuller wrote a book about Possibility Thinking. “Never say ‘no’ to a great idea simply because it is impossible,” he said. This was, to me, an astonishing idea the first time I read it. I wrote on a card, “Never say ‘no’ to a great idea simply because it is impossible,” and carried it in my wallet for years.

I’ve since come to believe that the unlucky say ‘No’ to luck just as easily as they turn molehills into mountains. Because they possess this ability and use it often they are, we might say, magicians of the impossible rather than magicians of the possible—in other words, they are unlucky.

No matter how unlucky you’ve been, a possibility thinker is always aware, as Max Gunther notes, that “One great opportunity, a single favoring chance can offset a run of (seeming) bad luck.”

Can it ever. Be used by a rich idea that will turn your luck around. “Where do I find rich ideas?” the unlucky ask. When media mogul Ted Turner donated a billion dollars to a worthy cause a few years ago he was asked by a reporter, “Aren’t you going to miss the money you’re giving away?” Turner grinned confidently and replied, “The world is awash with money.”

What a lucky way to see the world and money. “Yes, but he’s got money. He can afford to think that way,” the unlucky say. There is always a reason not to be used by a rich idea isn’t there? Discover YOUR great opportunity (it’s probably closer than you realize) and you will be well on the way to putting a bumper sticker on your vehicle that says, “Luck Happens!”

As does serendipity!


IN 1754 an Englishman, Horace Walpole, wrote a letter to his friend Horace Mann in which Walpole resurrected an obscure Oriental word. In his letter, he told Horace man about a tale called The Three Princes of Serendip. Walpole coined the word Serendipity and a poll in Britain (2,000 A.D.) voted Serendipity as that country’s favorite word.

What is Serendiptity and how is its linked to luck? Benjamin N. Cardozo wrote, “Like many of the finest things of life, like happiness and tranquility and fame, the gain that is most precious is not the thing sought, but the one that comes from itself in the search for something else.”

Sir James A.H. Murray described Serendipity as “The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident,” and a definition from Webster’s Dictionary described it as “the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.”

Take several minutes and reflect on the many instance where and when serendipity played an unsuspected role in your life? You’ll be surprised when you cast your mind back to the long forgotten instances of so many lucky and fortuitous times when the gain that was most precious to you was not the thing sought, but the one that surfaced in your search for something else—like the party you didn’t feel like attending, changed your mind at the last minute, and while there met the person of your dreams who also, for reasons they’re not quite sure about, also changed their mind and decided to go.

As Marcus Bach would point out, quoting the title of his book, what else could this magical confluence of events be except The Magic Power of Serendipity?

Bach claims there is a also serendipitous test of guidance: “It always motivates you (you do not motivate it); it always fills you with a sense of rightness; it always leaves you and your world in better spirits than before.”

This is very similar to one of Dr. Richard Wiseman’s four techniques for creating a luckier life: Listen to Your Lucky Hunches.

So, multiply your lucky opportunities by first of all writing your purpose upon the heavens [in other words, shake your dreams out of your cerebral pockets or purse] and listen to, play, and trust your lucky hunches to guide you to them.


My friend Peter has a theory about money and luck. He says, as we all agree, that money is energy. Peter, however, says money on the physical plane is DENSE energy. You can learn to play around with dense energy and get yourself a home, a car, furniture and food, or you can grow a metaphysical carrot. A real carrot, Peter notes, is grown from the dense energy of the soil. What good, he asks, is a metaphysical carrot if you can’t eat it? His view is that when Jesus told his followers to “be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove,” he was saying be wise in the ways of the world and if survival depends on a physical plane existence and you’re going to have to play in the same arena as the the well-to-do, then you better to give up any fanciful notions you have about money being the root of all evil [actually the Greek is “a” root of evil], get real and wise, become as educated and informed as your competitors are, and let your light shine as brightly or even more brilliantly than theirs does. You’ll do this if you want to “make it” in this old world of ours.

This, Peter says, is what the lucky do. The unlucky wait and drift. They just sort of mosey through life believing “the universe” will somehow take care of them (or the government, or Aunt Jewell’s will, or the lottery if they’re lucky!). To quote Max Gunther again, “Unlucky people are notably passive.”

Is being lucky in love or money (perhaps both) a fortuitous “chance” occurrence, merely a roll of the dice? Some win, some lose? My dad used to think so and he played life like the gambler he was. The stakes were high and winning required that you know more about the game than your opponent. “Win some, lose some,” he used to say.

He won the prizes of life more often than he lost. Partly, I believe because, yes he played the odds, but he only played them when they were definitely in his favor. In other words, he knew how to attract luck. Dad never went into a business venture or deal without already having visualized the outcome he expected. He worked out the ending in his mind and, unlike most people, proceeded backwards from his goals (as if they were already accomplished reality). And this, I believe, made him (a man with only a third grade education) a financially lucky man.

After all, he married the girl of his dreams. He was fortunate in love, you might say, because his buddy, who was engaged to her at the time, introduced them! He was unlucky in love, perhaps—as was she— in that they were so mismatched.

Are we all in this game of life playing the genetic hand dealt us at birth (for better or worse) or is there an underlying pattern, a structure to luck all of us can learn (if we choose) and, by doing so, upgrade the quality of our existence here?

The Luck Factor, Possibility Thinking, Serendipity, and Good Fortune —Too Much For A Person to Expect in One Lifetime? Part 2, concludes in the next installment

Author's Bio: 

James Clayton Napier spent twenty years as a radio and television broadcaster, interviewing people from every walk of life. He also taught television news and communication courses at three universities. James is presently Media Director for an educational corporation in Arizona.

“Download my free e-book I AM HOME, a small book with a timeless spiritual message. It is available on my friend Cait Benten’s website I AM HOME takes us into the center of a place where we find answers to our questions about our existence here, a place where we feel safety and rootedness, and are able to fulfill our heart’s desires.” More about me at: